While photographing wildlife at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma earlier this week, I came across an interesting sight – a group of paper wasps constructing a nest in a tree near the road. At first there were only 4 or 5 wasps working on the nest. When I first discovered them, I took a short video of one of the wasps fanning its wings at a high rate of speed over the nest. I learned this behavior is called fanning, and helps spread pheromones and regulate the temperature of the developing nest. But when I returned to the same spot a couple days later, I found the wasp colony had grown significantly.
The image shown here is from my second visit. I’m fairly certain these are Paper Wasps, as they are building the distinctive umbrella-shaped nest out of chewed wood pulp. Paper wasp nests have a honeycomb structure of hexagonal cells on the interior where eggs are laid.
It’s fascinating to me to observe social insects like wasps and bees building intricate nests for their colonies. This one was located low in the tree, allowing for a great vantage point to photograph their progress over multiple days. I’ll continue monitoring this nest on return trips to see if it grows larger as more wasps join the colony. Nature always finds ways to surprise and inspire me, even in the most ordinary roadside settings!
Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer
- Camera: Canon EOS R5
- Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
- Date and Time Taken: September 18, 2023 (08:04 A.M.)
- Program Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f/14
- Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec
- ISO: 6400 (Auto)
- Exposure Comp: -0.3
- Focal Length: 500mm